I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Fans vs. Favorites” competitors the day before they left for the Caramoan Islands. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each contestant every weekday until we get through all of them. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for tons of updates.
Name: Matt Bischoff
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Occupation: Brand Manager of Two BMX Brands
Note: The “Survivor: Caramoan” pre-game interviews are unlike the pre-game interviews we’ve done in the past. Usually, the interviews take place on location, this time they took place in Los Angeles before the players flew out. At this point, all the “Fans” know is that they’re flying out in the next few days. They have seen each other, but haven’t seen the returning players. They don’t know for sure where they’re going, and they don’t know any of the season’s twists.
Gordon Holmes: What does a brand manager for a BMX brand do?
Matt Bischoff: I’m in charge of everything. All of the riders that ride for me. I develop new products. I deal with international distributors. I do a little bit of everything.
Holmes: Do you ride yourself?
Bischoff: Yes, I’m a pro bike rider. But, now that I’ve gotten older it’s transformed into more of the business side of things.
Holmes: I’m unfamiliar with the industry, so to be clear, we’re talking about bike tricks, X Games kind of things?
Bischoff: Yeah, it’s BMX like you see on the X Games.
Holmes: So you can do all of those crazy things like going off a ramp and spinning the bike around…
Bischoff: Going off of rails, all kinds of dangerous things. But, I always remember to wear a helmet.
Holmes: Is it going to be weird spending the next month and a half without a bicycle?
Bischoff: No, because lately I’ve been so consumed with working. So, there hasn’t been as much riding going on the past couple of months anyway. And preparing to go on the show, I’ve been doing other activities. I didn’t want to get hurt. It’ll make me appreciate it a little more when I get back.
Holmes: You are a “Survivor” mega fan.
Holmes: How many times have you applied?
Bischoff: I sent in a video, and the second I sent it in I told my wife I was getting on this show.
Holmes: This was your first application?
Bischoff: No, I applied back in maybe 2005. I sent in a video and never got a response. For years after that, I thought there are so many people who apply, I’m not going to even bother. But, that’s not my motto in life. I make a lot of things happen. A lot of people call it “The Bischoff Effect.” It’s not being lucky, it’s being proactive and following your dreams. And I made the video and that’s that. I’m super stoked that I put my mind to it, I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.
Holmes: Why do you think you were picked?
Bischoff: Because there are a lot of facets to my personality. I look a certain way. People judge me a certain way because of the tattoos, the gnarly beard, I ride BMX. But, I’m a pretty conservative guy. I love my family. I love my kids. I love just hanging out and spending time with them. I have a major sensitive side to me. Some men are afraid to cry, I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Saying goodbye to the family was emotional.
Holmes: You’re the lead singer in a band. Is there any lead singer syndrome in you? You know, where the lead singer has a big head?
Bischoff: (Laughs) No. Singing in a band, being with a group of people, working with BMX people, I know how to find my place and when I need to shut up I can shut up. I don’t have this super cocky attitude. Sometimes you have to sit back and observe and not ruffle too many feathers in this game. I don’t think I’ll have that problem. But I can be a leader if people aren’t stepping up.
Holmes: You have a hell of a beard.
Bischoff: (Laughs) Aw yeah.
Holmes: And Hans Langseth pretty much rules your life?
Bischoff: He rules my life so much that I have a tattoo of him covering my entire back. He is the man from Norway with the world’s largest beard. His beard was 17.5 feet long when he died. I’ve just been fascinated by him. I’ve actually started to let my beard dread, because the only way to achieve a mega beard is by dreading. Everyone’s hair has a genetic terminal length. I’m going for the gold medal in the longest beard. I’m dedicating my life to see how long it’ll grow.
Holmes: When was the last time you were clean shaven?
Bischoff: Seven years ago. But I’ve had a beard ever since I could grow facial hair. It’s funny, because I can’t stand shaving my face, but I shave my arms and my chest and things like that.
Holmes: I’ve got to ask, can I see the tattoo?
Bischoff: Yeah, man. (Matt stands and unveils his back tattoo.)
Holmes: Wow, that’s really good work.
Bischoff: Yeah, Chris Garver from Miami Ink did that tattoo.
Note: Matt’s back tattoo is huge and very impressive. Hopefully they give us some good shots of it this season.
Holmes: As far as your “Survivor” gameplay goes, how do you feel about lying?
Bischoff: Here’s the deal, anyone who watches the show has got to realize that there is lying and deceiving and backstabbing. And even when you feel comfortable, you can be blindsided. I’m going into this game knowing how it works and I’m going to do whatever it takes to win. So, if that means backstabbing a friend? My goal is to win and I’ll do whatever it takes. You can’t play this game completely honest. But, after the game is over, everyone should respect who wins the game.
Holmes: It’s easy to say that when you’re the person winning this game. If you were a jury member, could you vote for someone who you thought was the best player but had stabbed you in the back?
Bischoff: You’ve got to respect people that make it farther than you. If you backstab me, I’m going to have an emotion of being pissed off. But, I’m going to vote for someone like you over someone that would ride coattails and not play the game.
Holmes: So, no respect for coattail riders?
Bischoff: This game takes a lot of luck and big moves and I think a lot of people want to sit back and chill and watch the game. I’ve got to be able to spot opportunities and make big moves when necessary.
Holmes: What are you going to do with that million-dollar check?
Bischoff: Invest in my future and my retirement. Buy a house in a better school district.
Holmes: Good dad.
Bischoff: Yeah, invest the money for my family’s future.
Holmes: If there is going to be a twist, what do you think it will be?
Bischoff: I think it will be Fans vs. Favorites. That’s my opinion. I could be totally wrong. But, I think there are going to be returning players. I think it could be a tribe of newbies versus a tribe of people who come back. I could be completely wrong.
Holmes: Any early impressions of your fellow cast members?
Bischoff: In my mind I’ve given these people nicknames. We’ve got “Jersey Shore” and “The US Marine” and there’s the “Model Dude” and there’s some attractive young women. A bunch of blondes. So, we’ll see how their work ethic is. Will they be laying under the sun or putting in work? If they’re not doing any work, I’m not going to complain about it and be like Phillip bitching at them to do stuff.
Holmes: If you don’t feed me, I’m a (expletive deleted). Do you have any problems like that with lack of food, lack of sleep…
Bischoff: There’s three things in my life that get me really irritable; if I don’t have sex for a period of time.
Holmes: Well, I’ve got bad news for you on that one.
Bischoff: (Laughs) If I’m hungry…
Holmes: More bad news.
Bischoff: Or if I’m tired.
Holmes: It’s a clean sweep.
Bischoff: (Laughs) I definitely think those things will make me irritable. I don’t know how it’s going to affect my personality, but I’m going to try to roll with the punches as best I can.
Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites,” Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.